February 4, 2010 // Uncategorized

Priests must live what they preach, avoid careerism, pope says

By Cindy Wooden

Pope Benedict XVI greets a newly married couple during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 3. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The key to a priest’s efforts to evangelize is to live what he preaches and to resist the temptation of careerism, Pope Benedict XVI said.

“Isn’t perhaps the temptation of a career, of power, a temptation to which even those who have a role of leadership and governance in the church are not immune?” the pope asked Feb. 3 at his weekly general audience.

In the church, just as in society, he said, the good of the community is harmed by leaders who work primarily for their own interests.

The pope’s audience talk focused on the life and mission of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican order.

Before setting out to preach the Gospel across Europe, the young Dominic was elected a canon of the cathedral in Osma, Spain. While he could have used the position to increase his prestige in the church and in Spanish society, the pope said, “he did not interpret it as a personal privilege nor as the beginning of a brilliant ecclesial career, but as a service to render with dedication and humility.”

St. Dominic brought the Gospel to people who had not heard it before and brought Catholics back to their faith because “he always spoke with God and about God,” the pope said.

“In the life of the saints, love for God and for one’s neighbors, the search for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls always go together,” he said.

A simple lifestyle in common and serious study were two other ingredients key to the Dominicans’ success, the pope said.

At a time when most religious orders supported themselves by owning and administering large tracts of land — sometimes becoming quite wealthy — St. Dominic and his brothers lived simply and relied on the generosity of the faithful, which not only freed them up to study and to be itinerant preachers, but also made them real witnesses of Gospel simplicity, he said.

The Dominicans also understood how essential university studies were in order to prepare preachers to address modern questions and evangelize modern society, he said.

“I exhort all, pastors and laity, to cultivate this cultural dimension of the faith so that the beauty of Christian truth can be better understood and the faith can be nourished, reinforced and also defended,” Pope Benedict said.

“The Dominicans, as preachers of the truth of God, knew they had to be coherent with what they were preaching. The truth, shared and studied in charity with one’s brothers and sisters, is the foundation of joy,” he said.

At the end of the audience, acrobatic jugglers from the Italian Circus Americano performed for the pope and the estimated 5,000 people in the Vatican audience hall.

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Editor’s Note: The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100203_en.html.

The text of the pope’s audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100203_sp.html.

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